Three years after Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert decided to fire Mike Brown, he re-evaluated his decision and on Wednesday rehired Brown as the head coach.
“I am thrilled to return to Cleveland to coach the Cavaliers,” Brown said in a release. “The commitment ownership and management have shown in their efforts to build a successful team and organization is deep, and I am excited to lead the team forward.”
The 43-year-old Brown agreed to a five-year, $20 million deal, according to ESPN.com. The Cavaliers have a team option for the fifth year, which is partially guaranteed.
Brown, who was hired by the Cavs in 2005 during his first stint, led the team to five consecutive playoff appearances before he was fired in 2010. He will be replacing Byron Scott, who was fired last Thursday after three straight losing seasons with team.
“I am more than excited about Mike Brown’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Gilbert said in a release. “Mike has done nothing but win in this league since he was a first-year assistant many years ago. He is going to instill a much needed defensive-first philosophy in our young and talented team that is going to serve as our foundation and identity as we continue down the path of building the kind of franchise that competes at a championship level for many years to come.”
Gilbert is hopeful that Brown’s .652 winning percentage will translate into victories for the Cavaliers, even though the Lakers fired him five games into this season after a 1-4 start.
The rehiring of Brown has garnered a mixed reaction from Cavs fans since he no longer has a superstar such as LeBron James, who played during his first stint.
Gilbert immediately took to Twitter after the announcement was made official and defended his decision to reunite with Brown. He noted that Brown and Phil Jackson are the only coaches with more than five years of experience to never miss the playoffs in their careers.
But according to multiple sources, Brown took the position because of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who is an emerging superstar, and the team’s large amount of salary-cap space.
This leaves to speculation that the rehiring of Brown could lead to the possible reunion of James to his hometown. James, who left in 2010, can opt out of his current contract in 2014.
Brown went 272-178 overall with the Cavs, while James propelled the team to the NBA Finals in 2007.
“I’m happy for him, very happy for him,” James said Tuesday before Game 2 of the Heat’s first-round series against Milwaukee. “I think he’s a really good coach, very defensive-minded coach. It’ll be good for the young guys that they have.”